Zero Fold, Cologne, 2011.
The works in this exhibition curated by the French artist Damien Deroubaix are as ambiguous as its title suggests. Using the preposition ‘after’, it gathers works by eight, mainly French, artists taking their cue from the history of art. Despite its apparent simplicity, the word ‘after’ opens up a wide field of associations, as suggested, among others, by the notion of hindsight, which often allows unsuspected meanings to emerge.
Echoing Deroubaix’s own practice, the art-historical references in this exhibition have been transferred into new contexts and a topical formal language, allowing them to act as comments on contemporary society. In Deroubaix’s drawings, etchings, collages and paintings apocalyptical scenarios unfold replete with symbols of death and interspersed with words and bribes borrowed from the realms of advertising, music and finance. The works in this exhibition share Deroubaix’s references to high-brow and low-brow culture, exposing hidden dialectical relations or simply showing the flipside of things.
The flipside of Yannick Vey’s Fist shows the triad of religion, sex and war, transforming an arm reliquary into a hardcore sex toy. Maël Nozahic ’s Le Sauveur (The Saviour), an aquarelle with an integrated devotional picture, plays on the linguistic likeness, if not equivalence, of the words ‘saviour’ and ‘savage’, an ambiguity which has riddled the history of missionary work. The horror lurking beneath the surface of innocence also haunts the figure in Jérôme Zonder ’s etching which, like a Little Jack who has jumped out of a children’s drawing, has embarked on a journey where it passes trees on which Goya’s Disasters of War blossom.
Elodie Lesourd is focusing on the recent history of art, for instance when she makes a gloomy allusion to Banks Violette, inviting one of her illustrious predecessor’s distinctively cool installations into her own painting Glissé(e)s, where it forms an eerie architectural skeleton. In this exhibition Lesourd is showing a work after Christoph Büchel. The work of Nicole Tran Ba Vang in turn is characterised by a lighter, irreverent and ironic approach. Here, she exhibits a digitally-aged vision of Raphael’s Fornarina, illustrating the idea that even icons fade away. (It remains to be seen whether the pseudonym ‘Madonna’ preserves beauty from the workings of time.)
On the other hand, merely a few lines are needed to reactivate other idols – and chimeras, as demonstrated by Christian Aberle ’s ink drawings, whose pointedly minimalist compositions reference Picasso or Magritte and let Thomas Schütte’s Ghosts come to live. Finally, Fabien Souche has devised a bacchanal with participants from various moments in the history of art: during the three days of ART COLOGNE, from 13 to 15 April, his bar will allow visitors of ZERO FOLD to enjoy a beer while acting as living formulaic images of pathos.